The BIG Lesson and all things British Science Week

Following on from the success of last year’s British Science Week with the guest appearance of Professor Lord Robert Winston, the Science Department was faced with whether they could match this feat. The challenge was set and they did not fail to impress again this year.

On Thursday, during Period 2, we held The BIG Lesson. The first collaboration between the science faculties of the three secondary schools in the Alban Academy Trust; Verulam, Sandringham and Ridgeway, broadcasting live via YouTube from the Sandpit Theatre to students in Years 7 to 10 and 12 in all three schools simultaneously which approximately equates to 3000 students. Surely a new World Record!

Mr Knowles became our local celebrity representing Verulam, together with Mr Lee from Sandringham and Dr Hercus from Ridgeway Academy to put on a science lesson on the theme of the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev’s periodic table. The lesson began at 10.00am with a live stream demonstration of igniting hydrogen and oxygen balloons, both flammable gases and the most important gases for life. This was followed by a similar and more explosive Hydrogen and Oxygen mixed balloon. The lesson then handed over to home schools for classroom teachers to get students to fill in their own periodic table from memory.

Next came Mr Knowles on live stream conducting a demonstration of the Group 1 Alkali metals. This demonstration highlighted the similarities and the trends in properties that the groups on the periodic table have. The lesson was then handed back to the classrooms to allow students to explore the properties of elements and build their own card sort periodic table.

We re-joined the live stream once more to see a flame test demonstration of the transition metals with an explanation of the position of electrons in each element and the reasons why copper burns with a blue-green flame and lithium a lilac flame.

The lesson was a huge success. Mr Flack was walking about the school and commented how strange it felt to walk in to classrooms across the school all doing exactly the same thing at the same time. The buzz from students has been tremendous and it has instilled a lot of pride in Verulam School.

Next, we turn to workshops from Medical Mavericks on Friday for Years 10 to 13 and then the Big Bang Fair Trip for Years 9 and 10 on Saturday. We will report on these next week.

The original question was: Could we go bigger? I think we certainly have done that!

Mr L Knowles

Science Department


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